TNG Novels Chart New Course

The last time we saw Captain Picard he was sitting in space dock fixing up the Enterprise and saying goodbye to old friends after the events of Nemesis. Now that the TNG film era is over, it is up to Trek Novels to continue the story. Riker and Troi have already set off in the popular ‘Titan’ book series, and so Picard must move on without his loyal first officer and trusted counselor. The first of these post Nemesis novels (Death in Winter) was released in hardcover in late 2005, and it focused on Picard/Crusher romance that has been brewing for far too long. That book gets re-issued in paperback later this year along with a slew of new TNG books to help celebrate the TNG 20th anniversary. In the second part of our interview with Simon & Schuster editor Margaret Clark, we find out what is next for The Next Generation.

Picard’s feisty new family
Of the 5 new TNG books planned for this year, 3 take place after Nemesis and "Death in Winter." Like she has done with the Enterprise novels (see part 1 of our interview), Clark has laid out a new path for the authors including new characters. And with these new characters come more changes to the TNG we know. The most pronounced is taking on the bit-too-harmonious starship Enterprise. Clark explains:

TNG has always been a story about family, now we have Picard with new members of his family. He has to have a new counselor and a new first officer. There are new people and new dynamics. They aren’t going "God Jean Luc, great idea!” You don’t have to bring in guest stars to question him, there are now people on board saying "Why are we doing that?”….this is no longer the cult of Picard

Even Crusher, now back on board as Picard’s CMO and main squeeze gets in on the action. "They are having an adult relationship," says Clark "the first time Beverly pushes back there is a problem: Is she doing that as his Chief Medical Officer or the woman that he is in love with?"

TNG can arc too
Because of these changes Clark has had to write out a ‘show bible’ in much the same way a producer would do on the TV series. This helps the authors keep track of the characters and the aforementioned dynamics. It also signals a bit of a change with how the novels deal with internal continuity. Although it is still the goal for each novel to stand alone, there is now more connection between them… 

In the past we were discouraged, but now there is more cross continuity. That is what Star Trek fans want, they want the books to mirror the experience they would have had, had the shows continued on.

In addition to the new continuity, Clark is also trying to clear up some things with a bit of ‘retcon’ such as why Worf is back on the Enterprise. "I can explain that," enthuses Clark. Apparently there is also some kind of thread arc that runs throughout the 20th Anniversary novels as well. These kind of arcs are already common in the DS9 book, which follows from how the show itself was arc driven. Even though the TNG books are now dipping their toe into the arc water Clark says that it isn’t to the same extent as the DS9 books, noting "you can still pick up any of these books in a store and enjoy it without reading the others."

Bye babble?
Another change in store for TNG is a move away from technobabble and technical solutions and more towards character. Clark feels that you don’t need to explain everything in detail, joking "how do Heisenberg compensators work?….very well thank you." The editor feels that there has been too much of a reliance on technology and it really doesn’t belong in the novels, saying

Five pages of tecnobabble could be fine with visual effects on a show, but it doest work that well in a book. Don’t explain how it all works, just tell me a good story.

…so does that mean that we will no longer have the deus ex machina technology save the day at the last minute?

Well this is still science fiction, but I tell all the writers not to forget that the greatest weapon in Starfleet’s arsenal is its people.

After the 20th Anniversary year is over there are still more missions planned for Picard and the Enterprise…plus some special guests. To that end there will be a 3 book ‘crossover event’ planned for 2008. Clark wont spill the beans on exactly who we will see crossing over or what they will be dealing with but did reveal one nugget, saying "everyone wants to see Picard and Riker working together again!"

6 new books for TNG’s Anniversary
In addition to the 3 post-Nemesis books for 2007, Simon & Schuster are also releasing another Titan novel, a short story compilation and even a prequel taking place between Picard’s time on the Stargazer and the beginning of TNG. The Titan Novel cover is noteworthy at it shows the Riker’s new ship for the first time (based on a design by fan Sean Tourangeau, the winner of the ‘design the Titan’ contest). See below for details on each.(all available as eBooks and Mass-market paperbacks for $7.99, except where noted) 

 

July: Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Buried Age

Revealed at last: the full story behind Picard’s "missing years" between the Stargazer and the Enterprise-D.


 

September: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Death in Winter

As the Romulan Star Empire stutters under the shifting political landscape, the Federation dare to send out teams to help subject worlds.  One mission headed by Dr. Crusher is lost, and she is declared MIA, presumed KIA.  Picard is sent to carry out her mission.

 

 

September: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Resistance

With his ship repaired, Picard looks forward to putting together a crew and getting back to exploring. But once again the captain hears the song of the Borg collective, and Admiral Janeway is convinced that the Borg have been crushed and are no longer a threat.

 

 

October: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Q & A

The crew of the Enterprise discover a planet that shouldn’t exist, and Q promises them if they don’t unravel the mystery the universe will end.

 

 

October: Star Trek: The Next Generation—The Sky’s The Limit

A collection of all-new short stories spanning the entire history of The Next Generation. ($14.99 Trade Paperback, edited by Marco Palmieri)

 

 

November: Star Trek: The Next Generation—Before Dishonor

Always a threat to the Federation, the Borg seem ready to wipe humanity from existence, not to assimilate them. Does a disabled Borg cube hold the answers on how to stop them?

 

 
December: Star Trek: Titan—Sword Of Damocles

Faith and reason collide as the Titan crew faces a crisis on three fronts.

 

 

MORE: Part 1 of the TrekMovie.com Interview with Clark on ENT sequels and TOS prequels 

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I always thought a movie with Q would have done well.

His episodes (In TNG) were always smart, well written, and had something important to say.

Reptileboy

These new novel sound very interesting, but I find this new obsession with continuity and crossovers with other titles displeasing. I used to like picking up Star Trek novels without having to worry about having read 16 other volumes in the series to get the full enjoyment. I mean, we pay for these books, so we should expect a complete product.

trogketh

I really enjoy the new attention to continuity in the novels; that’s what made me a Trek fan in the first place. It’s hard for me to take a series seriously, if it’s constantly contradicting what took place in the previous episode, or avoides the consequences & rewards of previous adventures. These new books sound fantastic.

Admiraldeem

I’m waiting for the picture.

To read that Nemesis is the last TNG movie breaks my heart.

spsblue

Personally I prefer the books a lot more than the TV serie(s) and the films. It is always interesting to find the story behind a chance comment somebody made in a TV episode, it enriches the/my version of the Trek Universe.

I’m looking forward to these books. I am enjoying the Titan series so far. When I got to the end of Nemisis my key moan was that it had finished. The same with Enterprise – I almost feel guilty for not being able to view as many episodes but then UK ratings don’t count unfortunately.

J.M Dillard is a strong author for Star Trek. She has written some of the best books in the Pocket Books line over the past couple of decades. And what she really brings to the table is an excellent ability to adapt screen tempo and beats to her prose. She did the novelizations of the motion pictures (starting with Star Trek V which is actually a GREAT read) so she has a cinematic awareness to her writing. I wish her luck, I’m a big fan!

Sleeper Agent X

I’m just glad to see the TNG stories continue…although I would prefer stories that were entirely original (and didn’t violate canon or each other) as opposed to stories that were too dependent on canon and continuity for their plotlines. I don’t hear anything in this interview that really suggests the latter, so I’m cautiously optimistic…

billy don't be a hiro

I agree that Ms. Dillard’s makeover of Star Trek V was an amazing piece of work.

Sean4000

I do not remember Michael Madden being “feisty” in Nemesis.

Rick M

I enjoy reading Trek books as long as it’s Trek and not a sci-fi story that you could replace any of the characters with non-Trek charaters. Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and J.M. Dillard are just a few that write great Trek. The only Trek I read that’s “outside” the shows is New Frontier. At times it can be a little comic bookish, but overall, I have really enjoyed this series. I’d love to see a live action New Frontier story!

Jay

#10 Michael Maddens scene in Nemesis was deleted so many people didnt see it, until they bought the DVD of course… he wasnt exactly ‘fiesty’, Riker kind of tricked him into calling Picard, “Jean-Luc”…. Ouch!

Sean4000

Yeah, that was a good deleted scene. He got it good for calling him that. lol

mrregular

#1:
You’re absolutely right…and I daresay it would have been a lot better movie than the last two Trek films!!

Canonista the Cultist

Quote…

“….this is no longer the cult of Picard”

Thankfully, I know and trust some of the authors listed above. Otherwise I might be completely suspicious of people toying with the characterization of TNG. Especially if it begins receiving praise from people that didn’t like the actual series.

I can’t say I’m happy with Paramounts sudden desire to alter and reverse-alter the entire Trek universe. After TOS went off the air, TOS fans had the luxury of 10 years of fiction published largely with the spirit of their cast left intact (reference Pocket Books novels..at least..#1 through #55).

I’ll read them, especially the novels written by Peter David, Greg Cox, and J.M. Dillard.

DEMODE

STAR TREK Resistance sounds like it would make a good movie. The BORG are an enemy I would love to see revisted, and it would be a good way to have Riker involved (and 7 of 9). Although its never been done in the past, I see no reason why they can’t take a good Trek book and make it into a movie.

…and yes, why on earth did they never make a Q movie? If the powers that be had wanted a Star Trek 4 movie for the TNG crew, having him in it would have been the way to go.

Dave

Part of the charm of TNG was the absurd way in which every problem was solved through “magic” technobabble. It’s the same principle as Kirk seemingly getting in a fistfight every week and getting his shirt ripped for no reason (the less said about the infamous “flying kick,” the better). You know how contrived it is as a storytelling device, but it’s still amusing in a camp sort of way. Fans who don’t see the camp elements of Trek are taking it way too seriously.

No one ever says, “gee, I want to write a TOS story without poorly choreographed fight scenes and obvious stunt doubles or tawdry sexual innuendo.” Leave TNG alone. Yeah, it was corny, but guess what? Star Trek has been corny for 40 years now, 20 for TNG. The only Trek that was even vaguely mature in its storytelling (DS9) was the least popular. Everything else was pulp hokum that happened to have a lot of worthwhile allegory.

After a ten-year break, the first Trek novel I read was ‘Articles of the Federation’, which I really enjoyed. I thought the Titan novels were interesting post-Nemesis reading. Looking forward to the post-TNG novels – especially Ketih R.A. DeCandido and Peter David’s novels. These are two of my favourite Trek novelists, so as far as I’m concerned they’re a perfect choice to introduce the new continuity.

NZorak

Thanks to this news article, I picked up the second Titan book, and so far I’m really enjoying it. I have the first and third novels on order, and I have to say that with a minimal amount of research into the characters and background in the first novel, it’s easy to pick up The Red King and get going. The element of diversity gets a bit annoying since I’m constantly having to remember what each character and their race is, but the story being told is interesting and well written. Since I despised Voyager, it’s actually pretty cool having the one character I liked from the series on the Titan. Good call by the authors including Tuvok.

I’m definitely interested in the new Next Gen novels. I’m glad they’re finally getting Worf back on the Enterprise, where he belongs. I’m also going to make the assumption that Geordi will be among the returning characters. The problem here is that I despise Nemesis with such an unholy passion that I refuse to accept it as canon. While these new novels looks excellent, the absence of Data is going to force me to at least deal with the possibility that the absurdity of Shinzon actually happened. Mixed feelings indeed!

MiguelSan

Why does J.M. Dillard seem to have the “I hate TNG” attitude that Baird had? If you’re going to write another persons story, at least LIKE the story and not come across as Baird did. It’s not yours, and they arent your rules. Asimov, Lucas, Rodenberry, Bradbury, Verne and others created their own rules, and anyone writing in their universe has to abide by them.

Guess it’s a good thing books arent canon.

NZorak

“Guess it’s a good thing books arent canon. ”

Unless Paramount decides to create a new series or movie using these characters and this timeline, which is something that looks like a longshot at best at this point, the books might as well be canon. Of course this is Trek, so I wouldn’t even rule out the whole notion of the Captain Sulu series that the fans were rallying for a while back.

Trekkie33years

I’m looking forward to the post Nemesis TNG novels. Of course, I was looking forward to the Titan novels by Mangles and Martin. Then, alas, I read them and discovered they are the literary equivalent of dysentary.
That said, Dillard, Friedman, and David are all accomplished Trek authors who have displayed a consistant understanding of Trek , its characters, and its underlying vision. I completely agree with the notion that they editors and authors need to not forget what makes Trek unique: Roddenberry’s vision. Trek is not about sex, violence, goofy aliens, and dark, grim futures (see Titan by Mangles and Martin for a great example of how Trek can be completely ruined by focusing on those things). It’s about humanity and how it will rise above its adolescence into a mature, intelligent species. So, while I am looking forward to these novels, I desperately hope that they don’t fall too in love with the whole “conflict on the bridge” crap.
I hope the don’t screw up TNG like they did Titan.